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Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Library Guide


Important Dates in the Life of MLK

1929 Born to teacher Alberta King and Baptist minister Michael Luther King.
1944 Graduates from high school at age 15 and enters Morehouse College.
1951 Receives degree from Crozer Theological Seminary.
1953 Marries Coretta Scott, a music student at New England Conservatory; they eventually have four children.
1954 Becomes minister of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, AL.
1955 Receives Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Boston University; leads boycott of segregated Montgomery buses and gains national reputation.
1956 King's house is bombed; U.S. Supreme Court ruling prompts Montgomery to desegregate buses.
1957 King helps found Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC).
1958 Writes about the bus boycott in Stride Toward Freedom.
1959 Visits India to study nonviolence and civil disobedience.
1960 Joins his father as co-pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta.
1963 Arrested and jailed during anti-segregation protests in Birmingham; writes Letter from Birmingham City Jail arguing that individuals have the moral duty to obey unjust laws. Delivers "I Have a Dream" speech during the March on Washington.
1964 Publishes Why We Can't Wait; Congress passes Civil Rights Act of 1964 which outlaws segregation in public accommodations and discrimination in education and employment. Receives Nobel Peace Prize.
1965 King and SCLC join voting-rights march from Selma to Montgomery; police beat and tear gas marchers; King addresses rally before state capitol, builds support for voting rights. Congress passes Voting Rights Act of 1965 which suspends literacy tests and other restrictions to prevent blacks from voting.
Mid 1960s King's growing opposition to the Vietnam War angers President Johnson and prompts many white activists to switch to anti-war activities.
1966 King's influence was declining, especially among young blacks. King turns towards economic issues; SCLC moves civil rights struggle to the North; opens Chicago office to organize protests against housing and employment discrimination.
1967 King plans Poor People's Campaign; advocates redistribution of wealth to eradicate black poverty; publishes Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community.
1968 King is assassinated in Memphis during a visit to support striking black garbage collectors; violent riots erupt in more than 100 U.S. cities.